Off The Mat, Into The World – Identifying How Our Past Traumas Inhibit Connection

yoga-poseI had the pleasure of spending five days in the Hudson Valley last month at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies. I attended a five day workshop called Off the Mat, Into the World with Seane Corn, Hala Khouri, and Suzanne Sterling. While yoga centered, Off The Mat Into The World was a workshop to create leaders for sustainable conscious activism. I have never thought of myself as an “activist,” but I really enjoy teaching yoga classes for the David Lawrence Center inpatients who are recovering from substance abuse and seeing their transformations week upon week. Teaching yoga, to me, is really about being of service to others, and I know there are many other people and populations that I want to eventually serve. Let’s face it: The world needs a lot of help. Even right here in Southwest Florida, there are people who need a lot of help. I believe that we yogis, who focus on healing ourselves, love, the union of all living beings, and giving to others, are some of the most powerful people who can really make a difference in this world. In addition, I feel that yoga creates healing, transformation, and empowerment. Imagine what the world would look like if every person practiced yoga!

Off The Mat had us examine the traumas that we have faced in our life and the limiting beliefs that we have adopted as a result of those traumas. An example:  One of my traumas was going through my parents’ divorce when I was in middle school, and the resulting rebellious, risky, and unhealthy behavior that I embraced all the way through my teen years. I still feel some shame for the way I behaved back then, so one of the limiting beliefs I developed from those experiences is that people will not like me if they know the truth about me. As I live in this limiting belief and hide my truth from others, I begin to put up an imaginary wall that separates me from others – which is a big challenge if I am trying to serve and connect with others.

Off The Mat made me realize that I need to shift my perspective about my past, my truth. My past experiences have made me who I am today. Why do I think my truth is so much worse or more important than anyone else’s? We have all done things we are ashamed of; we have all experienced trauma; we are all in recovery of some sort; we have all had to ask for forgiveness. Yoga has taught me that we are all really so much alike. We all want to be loved, included, and acknowledged. We all want to feel safe and to belong. We all have fears, insecurities, and tugging thoughts in our heads that say, “I am not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, funny enough…. [fill in the blank with yours.]”

So in essence, Off The Mat taught me that if I want to serve or help others, I cannot approach anyone thinking that I am different, or better off, or worse off than them, or even that there is an “us” and “them.”  I can’t let any past experiences get in the way of being the person I want to be and being able to connect with others. Through connection I can share yoga, and through yoga, I truly believe everyone can find peace within.

Courtesy of BV Yoga.

You may also like:

Project Air: Yoga Helps HIV-Positive Rape Victims In Rwanda

Finding Healing on a Mat

Lift Yourself Up To Root Down: How Yoga Can Help You Stay Grounded

© Copyright 2011  Allison Stuart Kaplan LLC

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  1. Sara,I am never disappointed in anything you write; your words stay with me like mantras of encouragement. Thank you

  2. Sara,

    Beautiful article and so true to my heart…as a therapist I see so many people in the “trance of unworthiness” and it does keep us separte and alientated if we don’t heal and also realize that everyone in their own way is suffering…

    thank you for this!!

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